Wednesday, October 28, 2009

GUEST - Suspense/Thriller author - MARK NYKANEN

(Please help us welcome Mark Nykanen! Mark is a four-time Emmy and Edgar-winning journalist, and acclaimed author of extraordinarily tense literary thrillers that feature protagonists who find themselves pushed to the absolute extremes of behavior and imagination.)


Most folks who come to my readings have become familiar with my novels only recently. I’m guessing that hardcore fans, if they show up, don’t always let you know of their presence. Why do I say that? Wouldn’t they want to make themselves known? I’m not sure.

Based on reader reviews of my earlier books, some folks who like my work also question my sanity. That’s in addition, of course, to the readers who don’t question it all because they think I’m a psychopath and warn other readers to turn around and run the other way if they ever meet me. I’m not kidding; you can see these kinds of comments on the Amazon pages.

But this doesn’t bother me because I figure that I’m doing my job well if readers simply cannot distinguish between the author and his work.

Then there are the hardcore fans who do seek you out. A young woman came up to me at a reading the other night holding a copy of PRIMITIVE and a dog-eared advance review copy of THE BONE PARADE. At a glance, I knew that the latter had been read many times. If further confirmation were needed, it came when she told me that she adored BP and had, indeed, read it over and over.

Her name was Caitlin, and she said she’d started reading me at fifteen. After BP, she’d gone back to HUSH, read that, and then read SEARCH ANGEL when it came out.

“I’ve been waiting years for you to come back here so I could get you to sign this.” She held out the weathered copy of BP and the unwrinkled trade paperback of PRIMITIVE. I was so pleased to inscribe both books for her, and only gently surprised when her mother took a photograph of her daughter standing next to me. It was a cozy reminder that readers’ passions are very important to us. Now here’s what I truly love: Even as I write these words, with my wife driving down an interstate to Portland, Oregon, my eleven year old daughter is in the seat right behind me saying ”Oh God, Oh God, he’s such an evil bastard.” No, she’s not talking about me, but about a character in the audio book that she’s listening to.

I strongly suspect that my daughter may one day approach the author of a book that sparked her emotions, and say something like “I’ve been waiting years for you to come back here so I can have you sign this book.”

Or perhaps she’ll be an author herself. She’s already started writing
two novels. One of these days she may finish one of them. Or both.
Or maybe those chapters will be like the novel I started writing at age eight. I never finished it but it was definitely a starting point.


mariska said...

the book seems great! Suspense is my favorite genre. i have to dig very hard to check his works in our local bookstore :)

cuniquas at gmail dot com

Betina Krahn said...

Welcome, Mark! I love the book cover and title-- will pick it up quickly! Yeah, our kids are definitely influenced by our work and our pursuit of our dreams. My son just finished his first novel and is starting the process of trying for publication. the torch is being passed. Maybe someday for you, too!

Good luck with "Primitive" and come back and see us again!

lois greiman said...

Hey Mark, thanks for joining us. My daughter and I have just begun writing a book together. Didn't expect that to happen, but I love making believe with your friends, isn't it?

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Cindy Gerard said...

Great having you in the convertible today, Mark. Just read and excerpt of PRIMITIVE. Yowser! Talk about sucking you in. I'm off to Amazon to order!!
Love hearing that your daughter has already taken steps in your direction. That didn't happen for me but I have high hopes for at least ONE of the grandchildren. They are great story tellers already, especially the 5 year old :o)

Helen Brenna said...

Hi, Mark and welcome.

I wonder if people who read books like this Caitlin that you described would like to write themselves? It's almost as if they're studying the process.

In any case, it is fun when our kids connect with what we do on any level!

Keri Ford said...

Hi, Mark. Great to meet you. Love the cover and that is too sweet how your daughter is sucked in her story and that she's writing too.

Pamela Keener said...

Hi Mark,
I am a suspense junkie so I will definately have to check this out.
Love & Hugs,

Mark Nykanen said...

Hi everyone,

I'm waking up out here in PST and finding all these wonderful comments. Thanks for the warm welcome. On this business of watching your children write, I thought I'd mention that Anika is actually dictating her latest novel to me.

I wasn't too keen on becoming her stenographer but decided to see how it would go. It's turned out to be a great way to teach her to edit her own work. I resist all temptations to edit her on the fly, and when she's done for the day we go back over the passages. She gets to see if she has any areas of concern, and then we correct them.

Ani's homeschooled so this fits right in with the program.

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Mark. Thanks for joining us here today. V. cool on your daughter being so sucked in by a book and a writer herself. Doesn't seem as if either of my kids have the bug...

Kathleen Eagle said...

Welcome, Mark!

I love taking the grandkids to meet authors. Loved taking the kids to meet authors. I had a little trouble explaining to my older son why a copy of my first book might not be an appropriate gift for the principal at (elementary) school but no trouble taking my daughter with me to any number of writers' conferences.

I wrote stories about a girl who solved mysteries with her cat when I was about 9. But my granddaughter has me beat. She started writing books on her own when she was 6. She's 7 now, and I love the way she goes about planning her stories. Very organized. She sorts out the characters, draws them, and then she decides on the relationships and the "talents." But she doesn't want to be a writer. Too "stressful." She want to be a clothing designer.

What a gift is the human imagination!

Mark Nykanen said...

I had quite a moment when my daughter walked in as I started vetting the audio book for PRIMITIVE. She asked if she could listen too, and I had to give that request some thought. She's started showing a lot of interest in books written for adults, so I didn't want to reflexively tell her no. She had started reading T.C. Boyle's DROP CITY, which I'm sure many of you know is about a band of hippies who decamp for Alaska back in the day. I thought I'd let her go with Boyle because he's a writer many adults find challenging, though he remains one of my favorite authors. In any case, I thought Ani would lose interest quickly. She read the first fifty pages or so before asking me to read it to her. I do read to her every night so at first I complied with her request, but within a few nights of reading I decided that if she wanted to read DROP CITY, she was going to have to read it herself. It proved too challenging for her, at all levels I suspect, and she moved on, quickly picking up LORD OF THE FLIES. This, too, proved too much for her, too dark in this case, so you can imagine my thoughts when she wanted to listen to P.

She dialed right into the book and -- truly, I'm not trying do a sales pitch here -- was tough to get to bed. When it came to the back story of a major character who'd been sexually assaulted, I moved the material along very quickly and with some fast forwards. Ani, I might add, didn't protest; in fact, she wanted to get through those passages quickly, too. There was nothing graphic, of course, but the discussion of the material was uncomfortable for her. It also made me feel that children have a (perhaps) native sense on where they'll go with their reading. I think it's a much tougher call with films because they come so fast, compared to the printed word, which is why at our house we're much more careful with movies. With books, children have the time to say, "I'm not going there."

Other than that one section, Anika stuck with every minute of P, and then wanted to listen to it again. That's where I drew the line.

MarthaE said...

Hi Mark! A good post and interesting comments regarding your daughter's reading!! It is hard to know when to let them get into more serious issues. Dark thoughts and a psychopath character can be entertaining - that doesn't mean I want to meet one of those evil guys in person!

Mark Nykanen said...

I did meet some of those crazies in person during my years as a journalist, and not all of them were behind bars -- some of them were in positions of power, which was truly daunting!

catslady said...

I love a variety in my reading and suspense has always been a favorite - I must admit you are a new to me author but after reading this post I'm most definitely curious about your work!

Minna said...

Hi from Finland! Hmm, looks like I have to add yet another book on my TBB list!

Mark Nykanen said...

Finland, really? One of these days I'm going to make it to my ancestral homeland. Well, Finland and Ireland both qualify in that regard. Been lots of places in Europe but I've yet to make to either of those countries. But thank you, Minna, for dropping in long enough to say hello. And thank you catslady for looking into my work.

In fact, thanks to all of you for a wonderful blogging experience!